Sunday, September 02, 2007

Are you a snob?

I used to be a full-fledged, 100%, no bones about it snob. My last boyfriend insisted I was a snob about food, me having grown up in Marin county--known for its wealth, where my parents always bought organic and spent more money on food than on anything else, even when they didn't have it to spend. He might have been right, but I wasn't going to give up on eating well just because it made him feel bad.

And then I became a snob about literature, founded on very little except the idea that if you knew something about books, particularly the classics, and read a lot, you were somehow "better." I'm sure this was encouraged in my liberal arts undergraduate college program,and I came from a family of readers, so it was an easy one to uphold for a time. That is, until I got to graduate school where I realized that I was in the minority with my knowledge. What I had read and knew was nothing compared to most of my classmates and all of my teachers. And it was the first time I got to encounter other snobs--snobs who were far better at it than me. Quaking in their cold wake, I began to realize that if I was to stay a snob, I'd need a whole lot more work.

Still, I held fast. I held on to the idea with a deathly grip that educated people are more interesting and complex than those who don't have college educations. It lasted for awhile longer, but then, perhaps because the universe does indeed have a sense of humor, I began to meet more and more "un" educated people, or people who had never heard of Madame Bovary, much less read it, and people who care more about their families or their gardening, or their hearts to give two shits about being well read who were intricately complex and lovely people. When they read, they did it because it gave pleasure, not made them smarter or better.

All that being a snob ever did for me was to hold me separate from others, to give me a false illusion of safety. To build a moat of fake confidence that I could stand behind and pretend to know more than others.

While I know that like any bad habit, being a snob will not entirely just go away over night, I'm chipping away at it as best I can, reaching toward people to understand and connect, not move away from.



At 6:14 AM, Blogger Maryanne Stahl said...

I think that intelligent young people draw lines in order to understand the world--and their own identity. But as one matures--and by definition has forged an identity and an understanding of what is valuable--black and white begin to melt into shades of grey.

In other words, your discriminating tastes were a way of you to define your universe and yourself, but now that you have, your great big heart can have a say, too.



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